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Glenish Rong

695 Park Avenue

New York, NY 10065
Statement of Purpose

I was born in Canton, China and I moved to New York in the summer of 1999. I

want to continue my study in linguistics after I finish my master’s degree in Teaching

English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). I intend to apply for the Ph.D.

program in linguistics at Columbia University for the fall of 2011.

As an English language learner, I strive to achieve fluency and sound natural. As

an ESL teacher, I hope to provide my students with more authentic pronunciation and

develop these qualities in them. One of the courses that I took for my master’s degree in

TESOL was Teaching English Sound Structure. After learning the phonetic alphabet with

diagrams, where I could see the places of articulation, I had an impulse to conduct an

experiment. My hypothesis is that adult English language learners will develop more

native-like pronunciation if they could see diagrams of the articulatory movements (place

and manner of articulation) and be injected with conscious modifications of their output.

Two of the classes that I taught at Glenish English Center in Brooklyn consisted of

intermediate adult English learners.

I used one class as the experimental group and showed the subjects diagrams of

the articulatory movements of each phonetic symbol in addition to video lessons. I used

my other class as the control group and only had the subjects repeat the individual sounds

and sentences that I produced. Instead of showing the subjects my video lessons, I only

had them listen to the audio lessons and practice producing these sounds with

modification of their output. After two months of practice, I recorded the same passage
read by my subjects and transcribed their speech. I analyzed the areas that they had done

well and the areas that they still needed to work on. (A sample copy of the audio, the

passage, the transcription of the non-native-speaker speech, and my written analysis will

be sent to Columbia Univeristy by mail.) I found that the subjects in the experimental

group, as compared to the subjects in the control group, achieved more native-like speech

with the chances to see diagrams of the articulatory movements and video lesions. After

this experiment, a number of questions occurred to me. Why do diagrams and video

lessons have a positive impact on my productive phonology? Do other adult learners need

that special training in order to improve their productive phonology? Do the effects of the

training last?

This was a preliminary experiment, not scientific based. I want to further my

graduate study in linguistics, so that I can continue with this work. My motivation to

continue my study also has to do with my language learning experience.

I started high school in 2001 and was placed in level 1 of ESL because of my

lack of knowledge in the English language. Even though English was not my native

language, I was outstanding at academic courses. In 2005, the year I graduated from high

school, I was awarded the Bloomberg scholarship by the US Pan Asian American

Chamber of Commerce Scholarship in Washington D.C. In the thank-you speech I gave

on stage, I mentioned that I would become an ESL teacher and help other English

language learners overcome their English barrier because I was once in their shoes.

I received my B.A. in the spring of 2009 from XXXX College, and my majors

were English Language Arts and Childhood Education (grades 1- 6). I had a basic

understanding about linguistics after taking The Structure of Modern English and The

History of The English Language.

I started my master’s degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

(TESOL) at XXXX College in the summer of 2009. The courses (Introduction to

Linguistics, Second Language Acquisition, Structure of English Sentences, Teaching

English Sound Structure, Bilingualism, and TESOL through Content) that I took as a

graduate student were strongly related to my professional careers of being an ESL

educator and a researcher in linguistics. As an educator, I have understood the importance

of knowing the structure and phonology of the English language itself and the importance

of teaching the language through the content areas. As a researcher, I was exposed to

theoretical issues related to second language acquisition. I wrote term papers on how my

ESL tutoring experience reflects on the concepts I have learned in my Second Language

Acquisition course and on how acculturation affects second language learning. In

addition, I conducted research project on bilinguals with regard to the maintenance of

their first language. (These papers and the project will be sent to Columbia University by

mail.) I benefited a great deal from tutoring at the English Language Institute (an

academic program for learning English as a second language at Queens College), from

teaching ESL at Lower East Side Preparatory High School in lower Manhattan, and also

from teaching at Glenish English Center (An institute that helps ESL students learn

English) in Brooklyn.

As a non-native ESL teacher, I am aware of how students feel toward learning

English since I actually went through the process of learning it myself. I can also predict

the potential linguistic problems my students may encounter and give them productive

feedback. However, as a non-native speaker, it is more difficult to give authentic

pronunciation and richer expressions to students than native ESL teachers do. Therefore,

my main research for my Ph.D. will be native-like fluency among non-native speakers. In
addition, with the knowledge I have in Chinese (both Cantonese and Mandarin), I can use

this as a resource to conduct more extensive research, teaching, and other professional

activities. I can also carry out linguistic analysis using data from the Chinese language.

My interest in linguistics and research is what motivates me to continue my study.

After finishing my Ph.D., I plan to teach college level E.S.L. and to teach TESOL

training programs in New York. With the knowledge I will gain from further graduate

study and research, I hope to have a positive impact on TESOL and create more effective

and efficient ways for language learning and teaching. As a linguist, I know I can be a

good model to my students and let them know that it is not impossible to acquire a new

language, even at an older age.